Peru as a travel destination
Have you noticed that you’re hearing about Peru as a travel destination a lot more these days? Twenty years ago, Peru was barely mentioned, and now it’s in all the travel industry media and people are flocking there by the thousands. Why is this South American country suddenly at the top of everyone’s bucket list?
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The political climate has changed
Peru has always been an extraordinary country, but until recently it wasn’t in the public light. In the last half of the 20th century, Peru was in a stage of political upheaval. Under the direction of a series of different presidents, the country had issues with rampant inflation, severe poverty, human rights abuses, and violent terrorism. As recently as the 1990s, it was not considered a safe destination. Although the political scene continues to be turbulent and filled with drama, most of the country is quite safe for travellers now.
Machu Picchu is every traveller’s dream
One thing Peru has done well is market the Incan ruins at Machu Picchu. This “lost city” sits atop a mountain and is shrouded in clouds every morning. Standing in the sky, watching the mist dissipate and the magical city emerge is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Years ago, the site could only be reached by hiking a grueling four-day trek through the mountains, but now it’s possible to get to Machu Picchu by train and bus.
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Peru was the heart of the Incan empire
The Incas had a complex kingdom that covered a huge swath of South America, but Cusco was the Incan headquarters. The mountainous area around the city is teeming with Incan ruins, some very touristic, like Machu Picchu, and some that can only be reached by trekking long trails through the mountains. The Incan sites include massive temples, homes, and whole cities, and there are pre-Incan ruins as well. You’ll also find museums teeming with Pre-Columbian art and artifacts.
The landscapes are breathtaking
You will never get tired of photographing the landscapes in Peru. The country is best known for its rugged and ancient mountains, which shelter pastoral valleys dotted with mud-brick homes, llamas, and alpaca. But Peru also has miles of coastline, dozens of volcanoes, deserts, and jungle territory. Colca Canyon is deeper than the Grand Canyon, a deep split in the earth that dwarfs anything humans have created. Peru is home to 70% of the world’s tropical glaciers, and they are shrinking rapidly, so if you’d like to see them, you should go soon. Peru’s Glaciers Shrink 40%
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The cultures of Peru are unique in the world
The entire country of Peru is a fascinating tapestry of cultures that couldn’t be more different from our lives back in Canada. There are people in the Andes mountains who still live almost exactly as their pre-Incan ancestors did. They might have cell phones now, but they still farm with hand tools, make their own beer from corn, and weave incredible textiles from the wool of alpacas and llamas. There are people living in the jungle who have only minimal contact with the outside world, and on Lake Titicaca, families build entire islands, houses, and boats out of reeds.
The country is warm and friendly to visitors
The Peruvian economy depends on tourism, and while tourism brings its own set of problems to the country, most people are very welcoming and happy to see you there. You can feel this warmth everywhere you go in Peru.
Peru offers a staggering variety of activities
The country has long been known to hikers and rock climbers, but there’s more to Peru than mountain sports. The coast is a surfing destination known for exciting waves. Lima has emerged as one of the leading foodie destinations in South America, famous for its ceviche and Asian fusions. People with an interest in textiles can study with the incredible women weavers of the Andes, and the Sacred Valley attracts spiritual seekers and yoga groups. The jungle areas are popular with animal lovers and botany enthusiasts.
The Peruvian people have a lot to teach the world
Outside of Lima, which is a city of over 10 million people, Peru is mostly a country of agriculture, small towns, and villages. The people work very hard, and in some areas survival is tough. But they maintain a pace of life that allows them to connect deeply with their families, their community, and their environment. Music, dance, and art are as integral to their lives as food and drink. Plazas and food markets are the hub of life in Peruvian towns and villages, where people gather and socialize regularly.
Maybe Peru hasn’t been on your travel radar, or perhaps you looked at it years ago but didn’t feel the country was stable enough to visit. You might want to take another look at this diverse nation. Its beautiful people, rugged landscapes, and charming way of life will win you over.
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Hero Photo: Hikers enjoy a sunrise view of Machu Picchu. The great Incan city in the Andes in Peru near the city of Cusco.
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